BACKGROUND: HIV-1 related encephalopathy has a bad prognostic meaning in the course of AIDS disease, but the early association of different drugs can modify its course. For this reason it is very important to recognize CNS involvement as soon as possible. As shown in the literature, at least in adult studies, EEG and Evoked Potentials (EP) are good tools in evaluating CNS alterations. In children data are rare. METHODS: A ten-year prospective study of 44 infected children out of 142 born from HIV-1 positive mothers has been done. The children have been submitted to EEG recording every six months in the first 18 months of life and then every year, to multimodal EP every six months. A total of 357 EEG, 47 P-VEP, 62 F-VEP and 98 BAEP have been performed. RESULTS: EEG: we found no pathologic results in patients belonging to category A; results were pathologic in 17.7% in category B, in 47.7% in C and in 77% of encephalopathic patients. It seems that EEG alterations are parallel to disease progression, with a relative risk of developing encephalopathy (R.R. = 1.15) and of death (R.R. = 2.33) for patients belonging to category C. We obtained a statistically significant lengthening in BAEP interpeak latency of left ear in all groups. For patients in category C the risk of developing encephalopathy is statistically significant (p = 0.045; R.R. = 6.75) and risk of death is high (R.R. = 4). CONCLUSIONS: Neurophysiologic exams are a reliable tool for the diagnosis of encephalopathy, in addition to clinical evidence.
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